Wednesday, March 26, 2008


There is nothing like

Long-distance phone calls
Chats over cheesecake and coffee

to fill up this deflated float and help it get back in line, bobbing on its way to the sea.

Thank you, everyone. For everything, large or small, that you have given to me. Even for reading this. Your love is never forgotten.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eden and the Cross

What I miss most about Eden is the feeling of certainty. Everything He made was perfect, everything He did was right. There was no doubt and no fear. We had not learned what those words meant, then.

The moment I bit into the sweet flesh of the forbidden fruit, I knew. I knew with awful certainty that my God was mighty beyond understanding and that I should be afraid of His greatness. I knew then my terrible power, that I could destroy what I had built; I could kill what had suckled at my breast.

And the sweetness of the fruit turned into bitterness on my tongue. It was wrong, all wrong, like eyes where ears should be or three mouths. And where did I learn the meaning of wrong?

I spit out the fruit with as much force as I can muster - it dribbles out of my mouth in a wavery trail of drool. I learn the meaning of weakness.


I do not know my right from wrong, my front from back, truth from lies. The newspapers tell me what to think. The internet tells me who to support for the elections. The magazines tell me what I should be wearing this season. Sunday School tells me that I am unique and that Jesus loves me. Church tells me the times are evil and the world is coming to an end. They do not teach me how to love homosexuals, prostitutes, rapists, murderers without condoning their actions and morals. They cannot explain the difference between "us" and "them". Is the any difference, if all are flawed and all bleed when cut?

The fruit, that damn blasted fruit; that brought all men to their knees, that made us pitifully confused creatures perpetually floating in a mist of confusion and duality. But it wasn't the fruit, was it really? It was our desire. And all that was supposed to bring us closer to His status - our knowledge, our labour, our piety - have failed to bring us peace. Failed to restore Eden.

We stack our accomplishments like building blocks to make a pathway to heaven. They fall, each and every attempt, dangling uselessly like a trail of drool.


And with knees bent, head bowed; my God takes away the fruit that poisons and chains me to desperation and hopelessness. He clothes me in righteousness and He lays upon my back two pieces of wood, fastened together -a cross. He tells me to walk with it, the rest of my days.

I speak from beneath that weight now; exhausted but triumphant, hurt but stubbornly pushing forward, doubting my faith but trusting in what I cannot see. Fully aware of my mortality and my fragility. But even as these cloudy eyes fill with tears, I know that one day they will shine radiantly with joy. And what is broken will be made whole, and this feeble life of mine transformed into something masterful, something beautiful.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Birthday Post with a trip down MGS memory lane

This is the first time I'm doing this, so be honoured.


You were the smart kid with round glasses in Form 1, a year younger than to the rest of us. Always sticking with Tsuey Xin and people you knew from primary school. I don't remember it all so well now, but I'll always remember that you stuck a "No Parking" sign on the chair when Ms. Chong (am I right?) came into class, and she sat on it without looking. You couldn't restrain your giggles.

In Form 2 you suddenly sprouted and I found myself having to look up at you (oh the shame...). As time went by, we continued being friends though not very very close. And in Form 3, we were all part of the big gang (the cool one, at least we thought so) that had so much fun in 3 Hornbill, that strangely-named class.

I seem to recall us getting closer in Form 4, what with having so many activities in common (prefects, CF, GB, Celcom...) and your leadership qualities started to bloom. We had a lot of fun that year. Frustration too. I have fond memories of going to your place, your mother's excellent sandwiches, laughing, watching Veggietales (or was that Form 5)? Good times.

Form 5 was a great year: less stressful in many ways than Form 4, and we became much closer then. You always provided a unique perspective to whatever issue we talked about, and was always so practical and matter-of-fact. I liked that I could discuss just about anything with you, and you spoke with windows and doors open - nothing to hide.

I hope you know, and anyway I'm telling you now, how great a help you were with CF and all the other stuff we had to do. And I enjoyed those discussions we had about God, His nature, our struggles and everything under the sun.

Since we left school, I'm really glad that this friendship hasn't withered; that though we rarely ever see each other we still can talk as frankly to each other and share each other's joys and worries. Though I don't know every little detail thats happening in your life and you, mine; I trust that when there's something big, there is a friend I have that I can share with and be sure that she will do anything she can to help and support me.

I appreciate you as a friend so much, Jobo (and JLoh and Joanna and all the weirder names we've called you over the years). I appreciate your intelligence and how more and more, its being accompanied with wisdom (James 3:13, v 17). I appreciate the fact that though you're forthright by nature (which is quite rare in our education system anyways), you've learned that tact can get better results sometimes. I appreciate that you stand up for what you believe in, that you have fears but are honest enough to admit them. That you wrestle with doubts instead of stuffing them into a corner. That you have an incredible sense of humour, albeit with cutting sarcasm sometimes (but so much less now, but not so little that it's too politically-correct).

Most of all, I appreciate how much you've grown as a person, how much you've matured (cliched word for growing up but quite appropriate) and how your rougher edges have been smoothened, your words become gentler and more thoughtful. I can see how God has worked in your life in the past year or so and I hope it's an encouragement to you, that though you may fail sometimes, you are being transformed into His image more and more.

Have a wonderful (belated) birthday and may this year be one of great joy and discovery, of boundless love, of peace, of fulfilling friendship, of all-consuming passion and purpose to live each day like you may never get one again.

Happy birthday, Joanna Loh Bao-Ern.

P.S. Should have been posted on 19/3, but I just crossed the deadline by 59 minutes!

Monday, March 17, 2008

About stuff

So many thoughts, and so little time to blog them.

about beauty.
Be a connoisseur. Be as intrepid and determined as a treasure seeker. And like a leaf unfolding, it will appear before your eyes, startling and perfect. It doesn't have to be typical, like a sunset or a flower. It's there in your friend's welcoming eyes. It's in the private joke that no one else thinks is funny. It's in an unexpected smile from a stranger.

Learn to accept it, not mindlessly turn to your soulless machines and forget the living, breathing world around you. Like default. And may you find that one perfect bud in the midst of the raging storm.

About friends:
Maybe the reason why I love people so much, why I generally like to observe others around me and find the best I can in them, is because I don't know them very well. People, who as a whole; are faulty with misconceptions and half-truths and agendas and biases and identity confusion. And complexes. And Issues.

And the way they surprise you sometimes, telling you things about yourself that you never knew, or just never examined closely enough to realise. Then you realise that while you were watching others, they were just as closely, as perceptively - or maybe even more - watching you.

About Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things:
She can write. She doesn't write steamy novels about scandalous liaisons between people of different castes and how a pair of twins rediscover each other. She unfolds the story, first arranging the cutlery, then putting each dish on the table with its covers on and then slowly, with all eyes watching, removes each one. The tension coils around your stomach, and you know it's going to be awful but you can't stop reading now, you have to know. It's like modern Greek tragedy, which is actually timeless tragedy. It's just so good. It's not just her sentences, of which there are some pretty picturesque ones, but her descriptions which have true power. When she describes a place in a few lines I have an image of it in my mind. Not just an image, but the out-of-body-but-still-in-body feeling of actually being there, amid the sweat and dirt and grime.

Lyd, I know the difference between her and those other "once upon a time in a steamy Asian village" novel writers now. It's not the story but the way you tell it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What song means to me

One of the things I miss about having a room and lots of space all to myself is the freedom to sing (and pray) out loud.

I remember back at home, when I was in that singing mood or there were too many feelings contained within me that I could not sort out, I would open up my mouth and let loose. It had a very soothing effect on me - as though all the energies and emotion bottled up within me were being channeled into tones of words that formed a melody and vibrated in the air.

I truly felt the anything done for pleasure, I did not need anyone to make the experience complete. I was both the actor and the audience; and there was perfect feedback between both sides throughout the process of warming up the vocal chords, singing, listening and experimenting with different pitchs and tones.

Here, I have to rein in my voice when it wants to soar (when I sing, it can be LOUD...way louder than my speaking voice), muting it into a hum or whisper. To not disturb others. There's no place on campus that is deserted enough for me to sing as boldly and loudly as I want.

The only time when I really go for it is in Christian Fellowship. Recently we've been doing mostly praise and worship in CF and it's great (though we should also do some bible study soon). When everyone else is singing I am free to join the chorus of praise. Though sometimes I admit I'm more into the music than Him, and that's something I'm asking Him to help me with. When the song is one we've played during Infuse (my youth group back home) a feeling of nostalgia and longing and familiar warmth sweeps over me.

I'm not one who's obsessed with music or wishes to pursue it as a career. I do believe that God has given us tongues and voices for two reasons - one, because He is very, very good and His creation is marvellous and grand and perfect in its every detail. Also, when we sing, we don't use our intelligence but our heart and spirit. There must be a link between what Jesus commanded his disciples to "worship God in spirit and in truth", and the multitude of angels praising God and singing in heaven.

I open my mouth, and pour forth everything that is in me.